Northeastern Ontario history book earns big prize
Dieter Buse and Graeme Mount latest work "Untold: Northeastern Ontario's Military Past" looks at the Canadian military campaigns from the past few centuries and how Northeastern Ontario played a role. Dec. 6/20 (Ian Campbell/CTV News Northern Ontario)
SUDBURY -- They've already got a few awards on their mantle, now historians Dieter Buse and Graeme Mount can add another thanks to their latest published work "Untold: Northeastern Ontario's Military Past."
Buse and Mount are the 2019 recipients of the Fred Landon Award, which recognizes the best book on local or regional history in Ontario, awarded by the Ontario Historical Society.
The retired Laurentian University professors decided to fill a void they saw with the region and thanks to some painstaking research and digitized records came out with a new book, so thick they had to split it into two volumes.
"Our book is based on the idea that we want to engage the reader not just present factual information so we have dug out stories from this region of people who are POWs and their diaries tell you in very great detail what they suffered as well as how they became POWs," said Buse, from his Sudbury home.
The book takes a look at the Canadian military campaigns from the past few centuries and how Northeastern Ontario played a role.
"The Dieppe raid in August 1942, everyone knows about it but it's always identified with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry or the Royal Regiment, guess where those are identified…Hamilton, the other Toronto," cited Buse as an example.
"And yet 20 of those who died of the 5,000 who landed at Dieppe came from Northeastern Ontario."
The pair spoke to archivists in cities and towns across the region to learn what was being held in their respective libraries.
There was also a lot of research done at home thanks to Ancestry.com and the digitization of records thanks to Libraries and Archives of Canada.
They're hopeful this will put a spotlight on some of those stories that have been forgotten with time.
"Most of the books that focus on the War of 1812 focus on the area around Lake Ontario, the Niagara Peninsula and areas that are now Kingston and Toronto probably because until Laurentian opened there were no universities in the north and people from Queens and University of Toronto wrote about the neighbourhoods they knew," said Graeme Mount, from Victoria B.C.
"But a shockingly small portion of Northeastern Ontario are aware of the existence of Fort. St. Joseph."
Mount says the British garrison located on St. Joseph's Island played a major role in keeping the upper Great Lakes British.
"There are many stories in the book about young men in their twenties and early thirties who met most unfortunate demises. I think of Joseph Julius DeMarco, an athlete from North Bay who was from a prominent Italian family in that city whose plane crashed off the coast of Sierra Leone in 1942. He was at that point ferrying supplies to the British who were liberating North Africa and he had to circumvent enemy held territory and his plane crashed," said Mount.
The book also doesn't shy away from other topics including Francophones who refused to sign up for British wars, Indigenous involvement, desertion and venereal disease.
"I'm quite sure people who read our books will come out with different knowledge, new knowledge and a knowledge that is quite profound about our area," said Buse.
"We have to look at it at that side as well - as a 94-year-old veteran told us, ‘war is hard in all circumstances but you have to survive it.’"
The book is available in regional bookstores and is also available for purchase online.